A feather in her cap


This cabinet card was found in Niles, Michigan. The girl in the feathered hat and fur coat is Minnie Sheets.  Her father, Jacob, who immigrated to the US from Germany in 1853, owned and operated a dry goods and general merchandise shop in Ligonier, Indiana, where he sold clothing, carpets, groceries, boots and shoes, and even offered custom tailoring.

Minnie’s grandfather was a shoe dealer.  I suspect that as a result of her family’s businesses, Minnie had access to all the finest clothing and accessories that a girl could want.  What she lacked was a mother.  In 1875, when Minnie was two years old, her mother Lena died, leaving her to be raised by her father and her maternal grandparents, Minnie and Peter Sisterhern.

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A girl and her doll


Some years ago during a visit to an antique shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I came across this cabinet card photo of a little girl and her doll, and I couldn’t leave it behind.  At the time, I wasn’t even collecting old photos.  I also purchased a photo of the girl when she was older. Written on the back is the name Marie Nunnemacher.


Although I have a name, I can’t positively identify the sitter. I thought that the name written on the back would be her maiden name, since they are childhood photos.  However, I haven’t been able to find a Marie Nunnemacher that would fit.  I even searched the last names Winnemacher and Wannemacher, in case I was misreading the handwriting.

It’s possible that she was Mary “Marie” Wandel, born in 1888 in Milwaukee, who married Max Nunnemacher.  However, this is just a guess. I hope that someday Marie’s family members will stumble upon this blog post and recognize her.


The Dressmaker


Abt. 1895

Here is another cabinet card from the Pinney album, which I found in an antique shop in Fremont, Indiana.  This image was not identified, but upon researching the family some years ago, I was pretty certain I knew the name of the sitter, based on the fact that she was the only female cousin found living in East Jordan, Michigan who fit the time period.  Recently, I discovered photos shared on a public ancestry tree and now I can be certain that I’ve matched this photo with the correct person.

Laura Mabel Pinney’s family moved from Arcade, New York and were one of the early settlers of Jordan township in Antrim County, Michigan.  In 1873, when she was about one year old, and her brothers, Herman and Howard were six and four, her father, Curtis, purchased a 160 acre parcel of wood land that he cleared and where he built a 16 x 24 ft. log cabin.  Her Grandmother Pinney, a widow, lived with the family.  Her mother, Marion (nee Beebe), knit long woolen socks and mittens, sewed rag rugs and clothing for the family. And when a school house was built, her mother acted as teacher for the first year.

When Laura was fifteen, her parents built a nicer frame house on the homestead that was completely finished and even had running water, courtesy of a nearby spring piping water into a 20 gallon tank in the pantry.  What a joy that must have been!

Laura worked as a live-in housekeeper during her early adult years, later becoming a dressmaker.  I wonder if she designed and made the dress she is wearing in this photo?

Laura and her brother, Howard Curtis Pinney, came down with pneumonia in 1911 and both succumbed to the illness within a couple weeks of each other.  She was just 38 years old.

Census records
A Brief Account of the Pioneer Settlement of a part of Antrim County, by Allison Pinney
Michigan death records

We hear thee and forget our care


I acquired this beautiful photograph on etsy, although, I prefer to find photos in shops or at estate sales.  However, I was so taken by this image that after watching it languish for over a month, I finally rescued it on my birthday last year.  It is a Boudoir card, which is larger than a standard cabinet card, measuring 5 1/4″ x 8 1/2″.

The sitter is Ida Taylor, who lived to be 101 years old!  She lived in the Boonville, Indiana home that her father built the year she was born, until her death in 1957.

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Wedding Bells

What better time than Valentine’s Day to feature photos of couples from my collection. These first two cabinet photos were found at an antique mall in Auburn, Indiana.  The previous owner removed them from an album and noted on the back what was written on the discarded album pages. The photos, individually, are not identifiable, as one cabinet card supplies a location, but only a first name and the other provides first and last names of the couple, but no location.  Luckily, I’m quite thorough when looking through bins of photos, and recognized that they featured the same young woman.

I believe this photo was taken during their engagement or possibly as a wedding photo.  Granted, the young man does not look as if he’s excited to be there.  In fact, I see him as looking quite dejected.  But, Rosa May McKnight and Robert Eldred Wright wed on April 14, 1898 when they were 19 and 24 respectively, and they had forty-three years of wedded bliss (at least I like to imagine it was more bliss than not)!

Rosie & Robert Wright

Robert was the owner of the Nebraska Salesbook Company, a print shop business, which he founded in 1895.   To Robert’s credit, he grew his business from that of three employees, including himself, to that of one hundred when he retired in 1933.  The couple made their home in Lincoln, Nebraska, where they raised four children; William, Lillian, Laverne, and Mildred.  One child, whose name is unknown, died very young.


about 1895

The next photo is a bit later than I normally like to collect, but just look at that dress, with all of lace and the drooping bouquet in her hand!  And it’s probably just me, but I’m getting a Mark Pellegrino vibe from the gentleman sitter.  Beginning in the late 1890s, cabinet cards were replaced with stiffer mounting cards that were constructed of multiple layers of dense pressed cardboard that produced a matte textured appearance.  These mounting cards came in gray, dark green, bronze and black and also in many different sizes, unlike cabinet cards which were traditionally 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″.  For example, this card mount is 6 x 7 3/4″.  If you’d like to see the photo as it is mounted on the card, you can find it below, after sources.

John Goller and Mary (1st wife)

In addition to the names on the back of the photo, the writing also identified John and Mary as “Grapa (sic) Art’s Mom & Dad.”  This additional bit of information was a great help, as there was another John Goller living in the same area.

Miss Mary Thieroff, 23, married John Goller, 33, in 1899 in Defiance County, Ohio where they made their home and had three children; Alma Laurine, Clarence John, and Arthur Henry.  John’s parents immigrated to the US from Germany, as did Mary’s father.  I wish I could say they lived happily ever after, but I can not.  Mary died in 1913 from complications of a surgery and John married a second time to Miss Cora Greenler.  He died in 1934.

Census records
Ohio death records
Find A Grave
19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide, by Gary W. Clark
The Lincoln Star, Lincoln Nebraska
Lincoln Evening Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska
The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska
Defiance Crescent News, Defiance, Ohio





In Mourning


This is a carte de visite, also known as a CDV, of a woman in mourning.  During the Victorian era, mourning clothes were a display of one’s sorrow.  Note the black veil she is wearing. On the back of the CDV is the photographer’s information which reveals that the photo was taken by Baird on 13 Fifth Street in Zanesville, Ohio.  Based on the photo’s border of two different width lines and the square corners, as well as the fashion, I date this image as being produced in the mid to late 1860s.

Catherine was born in 1836 in Adams County, Ohio, and grew up on a farm with her parents and her twelve siblings.  She married Daniel Wymer in 1855 and they settled in Union, which was about twenty miles from Zanesville.

As with the vast majority of American citizens who lived during the Civil War, Catherine’s life was greatly impacted by the sectional conflict.  She was left to care for their four small children while her husband fought for the Union in 1864.  She lost her brother, Samuel, to the war; he died in 1862, of Typhus, an intestinal infectious disease caused by poor hygienic conditions that were commonplace in military camps.  Samuel’s regiment, the 97th, lost a total of 254 men, and 161 of those deaths were from disease.

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Broken Neck Wonder


I came to own this very unusual photograph when I purchased a family album in a shop near Pioneer, Ohio. With the photo secured in the album, I couldn’t see the text imprinted on the bottom of the card, and my mind went wild with ideas about why this man’s head would be in such a contraption.  Once at home, I carefully pulled the photo out of its page and that’s when I came to know Barney Baldwin, the Broken Neck Wonder.

Barney’s story is explained in the following article printed in the St. Paul Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota, December 15, 1887.

Now, whether Barney’s tale is truth or fiction, I’ll let you be the judge.  I like to think that it’s a little of both.  There is evidence that Barney worked in a railroad yard in 1883 and in several articles it mentions that people witnessed scars on his legs and arms.  Possibly he did meet with an unfortunate accident of some sort.

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